Angles on the English-speaking world, vol. 4: Writing and vocabulary in foreign language acquisition. Ed. by Dorte Albrechtsen, Kirtsen Haastrup, and Birgit Henriksen. Copenhagen: Museum Tusculanum Press, 2004. Pp. 151. ISBN 8772899328. $25.
Reviewed by Richard W. Hallett, Northeastern Illinois University
This volume, one of a series of annual publications by the Department of English at the University of Copenhagen, focuses on issues of writing and vocabulary acquisition. The first three articles concern the former and the remaining five the latter.
In the first article, ‘Activity systems for ESL writing improvement: Case studies of three Chinese and three Japanese adult learners of English’ (13–33), Luxin Yang, Kyoko Baba, and Alister Cumming use activity theory to explain how preuniversity English as a second language (ESL) students acquire written skills in academic English. They conclude that learning to write in a second language is both an ‘internal process’ and ‘the product of external factors’ (29).
Alister Cumming, Keanre Eouanzoui, Guillaume Gentil, and Luxin Yang, in ‘Scaling changes in learners’ goals for writing improvement over an ESL course’ (35–49), also focus their research on preuniversity ESL students. They show that ESL students’ long-term aspirations, goal objectives, and actions toward their goals in ESL writing are ‘fundamentally similar’ at the beginning and end of their ESL programs (45).
In ‘Attention to argumentation in learner text production: How do we capture learner ability in argumentation?’ (51–68), Dorte Albrechtsen, Kirsten Haastrup, and Birgit Henriksen present their analysis of five English as a foreign language (EFL) protocols. They conclude that restricted writing tasks might give insight into the development of argumentative writing.
Anna Cieślicka and David Singleton, in ‘Metaphorical competence and the L2 learner’ (69–84), define metaphorical competence in second language (L2) learning and review work in the area, and offer possible pedagogical implications.
‘V_links: Beyond vocabulary depth’ (85–96), by Paul Meara and Brent Wolter, argues against distinguishing between vocabulary depth and breadth. Instead, the article claims that a more productive distinction is between vocabulary size and organization.
In ‘Second language reading and incidental vocabulary learning’ (97–110), Rob Waring and Paul Nation review current research on L2 reading and incidental vocabulary acquisition and conclude with possible pedagogical implications.
Kirsten Haastrup, Dorte Albrechtsen, and Birgit Henriksen, in ‘Lexical inferencing processes in L1 and L2: Same or different? Focus on issues in design and method’ (111–28), report on their initial foray into the lexical inference processing of Danish learners of English in their native language and English. The authors conclude with additional matters to be taken into consideration in their full study.
In the final article, ‘The relationship between vocabulary size and reading comprehension in the L2’ (129–47), Birgit Henriksen, Dorte Albrechtsen, and Kirsten Haastrup also examine Danish learners’ acquisition of English vocabulary. They suggest ‘a probability zone’ (137) that considers vocabulary size as well as lexical inferencing skills and lexical organizational structures that determine reading ability.
This book is a nice addition to the current publications on L2 vocabulary acquisition and would provide good supplemental readings for courses on second language acquisition and seminars on vocabulary learning.